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Full text of "My Country And My People"

272          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY   PEOPLE

Chinese soul are hidden behind a somewhat unprepossessing
exterior. Behind the Chinese flat, unemotional face is con-
cealed a deep emotionalism, and behind his sullen, decorous
appearance resides a carefree, vagabond soul. Those rough
yellow fingers mould and fashion objects of pleasing design and
harmony, and from the almond eyes behind the high cheek-
bones shines a tender light that dwells fondly on forms of
exquisite beauty. From the Temple of Heaven to the scholar's
letter-paper and other products of artcraft, Chinese art shows
a taste and finesse and understanding of tone and harmony that
distinguish the best products of the human spirit.

Calm and harmony distinguish Chinese art, and calm and
harmony come from the soul of the Chinese artist* The Chinese
artist is a man who is at peace with nature, who is free from the
shackles of society and from the temptations of gold, and whose
spirit is deeply immersed in mountains and rivers and other
manifestations of nature. Above all, his breast must brood no
ill passions, for a good artist, we strongly believe, must be a good
man. He must first of all "chasten his heart" or "broaden his
spirit,'* chie0y by travel and by contemplation. This is the
severe training we impose on the Chinese painter. It would be
only too easy to give testimonies from Chinese painters to
illustrate this point. Thus Wen Chenming said: "If one's moral
character is not high, his art will also lack style." A Chinese
artist must absorb in himself the best of human culture and
nature's spirit. Tung Ch'ich'ang (1555-1636), one of the
greatest of China's calligraphists and painters, once said of
another painter: "How can one be the father of painting with-
out reading ten thousand books and travelling ten thousand fi?"
The Chinese artist does not learn painting by going into a
room and stripping a woman naked in order to study her
anatomy, nor does he make copies of plaster figures of ancient
Greece and Rome, as some backward art schools in the West
still do. The Chinese artist travels and visits the famous
mountains like Huaagshan in Anhui or the Omei mountains
in Szechuen*

This escape to the mountains is important for several reasons.
First of all, the artist must absorb impressions from the myriad
forms of nature, its insects and trees and clouds and waterfalls.